landscape is our inheritance and yet it

is a legacy that we own to easily take

for granted it provides many of the

needs of our everyday life and it said

standards of beauty that are difficult

to surpass limestone landscapes like the

yorkshire dales are some of the most

beautiful on the planet and the

limestone itself is one of the most

useful rocks that nature provides

many people enjoy the limestone scenery

but how many stopped to consider how did

it get to be this way

every Hill every bump every feature of

this landscape is there for a reason if

we could only read it everywhere there

is a story of life and death generations

that have come and gone drought flood

huge ice sheets cover in the land and

changes of climate ranging from Arctic

to tropical but one of the limestone

itself what is you where did it come


the story starts about 350 million years

ago and surprisingly with a coral reef

on the bottom of a shallow tropical sea

somewhere near the equator coral is a

living creature not a plant as it may

first seem when it dies his skeletal

remains and those of other small

creatures collect on the seabed as an

ever thickening chalky layer which in

calcium carbonate a coral reef

but how could this possibly be related

to this hard limestone law thousands of

miles further north and far above sea


certainly when scientists first came to

realize that these shapes they found in

the limestone were actually fossils the

imprint left my creatures called quinoid

which once lived in a shallow tropical

sea it must have been hard to believe

but any doubt went when other fossils in

nearby beds will clearly see shells

there were large ancient shellfish a

bivalve micawber ductus

similar sea conditions exist today such

as here on the coast of Kenya or most

famously on the Great Barrier Reef of

Australia but in far warmer climates

than here in the Yorkshire Dales how

could that be as our knowledge of the

earth has increased these puzzels have

become easier to and level we now

understand that the land masses on which

we now live were once very different to

the way they are now the circle shows

where the area that would one day be the

British Isles was calculated to be at

that time what had once been a single

large continent was breaking apart and

drifting slowly northwards the land

message was sometimes colliding putting

enormous pressures on the rocks causing

volcanic eruptions earthquakes and

thrusting upwards huge mountain ranges

over millions of years the shape of the

continents as we now know them started

to emerge

those one-time coral reefs had undergone

great changes on their journey north

they'd been subject to huge forces and

changes in temperature and in the

process had changed into the hard

limestone rock that we now see around us

the evidence suggests that the limestone

was laid down near a huge River Delta

beneath the sea lay the remains of an

ancient mountain range the highly folded

rocks had been heavily eroded and worn

down to a rounded block the most every

from north to south with a fairly steep

escarpment at the southern end

we call it the ass rig block

it was on to this space that the chalky

remains of those ancient sea creatures

were deposited the thickest layer would

form the main and most familiar bits of

the yorkshire dales limestone which we

call the great scar limestone and which

can reach nearly 200 metres thick in

places above that later more changeable

conditions formed alternating thin

layers of mud sand and calcium carbonate

which will become a series of beds of

shale sandstone and limestone which we

now call the your Dale series as the

huge Delta spread out into the

shallowing sea the sand gave way to a

horse hard grid washed down from the

inland mountains which was to become


and so from these layers the building

blocks of the Yorkshire Dales landscape

were they down there beneath that

tropical sea some 350 million years ago

the chalky deposits from the tropical

sea would form the great scar limestone

with this limestone pavements and white

cliffs which now give the dales such a

distinctive character above it we find

the more thinly bedded your Dale series

which in the more northerly gales become

the dominant rocks the grid became grit

stone but it has largely gone from the

southern dales and only remains as a cap

on top of the high peaks like penny

gained and ingleborough however once

these rocks was first high above sea

level and transported halfway across the

globe the work of creating these

familiar landscapes had just begun the

rocks were only the foundation but the

sculpting of the landscape had hardly


here at hell with bridge the

horizontally bedded great scar limestone

can clearly be seen lying uncomfortably

on the older steeply bedded Silurian

slates of the estwick block at the

steeper edges of the block to the south

and to the west the upper beds as that

became lifted up were put under great

pressure great fractures appeared

allowing the world beyond the Esprit

Rock to settle down would in a series of

steps some of those steps can still be

seen today

the Craven fault at gig with Rick's car

still marks a dramatic change in the

landscape at the sudden limit of the

Yorkshire Dales National Park

and yet the Yorkshire Dales landscape

would still have been very different to

that of the present day as soon as the

box were exposed at a surface

ancient rivers would have begun there a

road that more dramatic changes were to

come the Ice Age or rather a succession

of ice ages covered the landscape with

sheets of ice hundreds of feet thick the

glaciers tall way of the rock layers

carving broad deep valleys as the

climate moved the melting water

continued the job carving deep sigh deep

gorges the landscape changed


however the glaciers also deposited rich

fertile Boulder clays how much of the


was so encouraged with thick forests

then another force soon came onto the

scene man we needed wood for his houses

bolts and fires he cleared great tracts

of land to grow crops and grazes animals

he built walls and introduced sheep to

the hillsides they will prevent any

chance of the forests regenerating by

eating away the saplings as soon as they

appeared but the now familiar open

landscape was soon established but man's

impact didn't end there he built roads

and cities which created an ever

increasing demand rocks and minerals

limestone was certainly a valuable


man's impact on the landscape but well

prove to be the greatest yet